Be a Poet, Write a Sonnet

Structured poems are easy and pleasing to read, but is it as easy to make one? Many definitely know the answer — it isn’t. Writing poems can be easy for some people, but that is because they have studied, practiced, and devoted time and passion to perfecting the craft. Nevertheless, there is time for everyone — time to adapt, time to learn, and time to write. Poets are made, not born. So as long as you are eager to learn and passionate to write, you can, and you will be a poet.

One of the most classical forms of poetry that compelled poets to study as it became popular for its sophisticated, lyrical and rhythmic accents and sounds is the sonnet. Coming from the Italian word “sonetto,” meaning “little song,” this type of poetry has been adored for its charming musical pattern and strength. Sonnets are written as 14-line poems in an iambic pentameter with several rhyme schemes, adhere to the thematically structured arrangement and have remarkable “Volta” or “turn” in the poem.

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Rhyme and rhythm are usual techniques in writing a poem, and learning how to write a sonnet is an opportunity to infuse traditional poetry and new terminologies in the present century to produce more romantic poetry.

There are several methods and tips to remember in writing this “little song.”

Focus On a Theme and Be Specific

Unlike classical sonnets that mostly express romantic love, there is a wide array of themes to choose from. Widen your imagination and do not be limited by your boundaries. Simple yet interesting themes like life, poignant memories, trials, or even funny experiences can result to a good sonnet. Love, of course, can still be your theme — just make it more specific and more intriguing as readers look for new and fresh angles.

Upon deciding on the theme, narrow it down to a specific topic. As much as possible, write something that many people can relate to. But the more original and more specific the idea is, the easier it will be for you to write the sonnet.

Select a Type of Sonnet

There are two major types of sonnets: English and Italian. Italian sonnets, or Petrarchan sonnets, are divided into two stanzas: the octave which consists of the first eight lines, and the answering sestet with six lines. The rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA CDCDCD is best suited for rhyme-rich Italian language (however, English sonnets also have fine examples of such rhyme scheme.)

English sonnets are also known as Shakespearean sonnets, and probably the most famous type. Although this type of sonnet is also comprised of fourteen lines, the structuring of the lines and rhyme schemes follow different rules. Three quatrains followed by a couplet follow the scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The rhyme scheme, argument build-up in stanzas, and “Volta” or turn will be discussed further on the next points.

Understand Iambic Pentameter

Sonnets are written in a rhythm called iambic pentameter. An iamb consists of two syllables: one unstressed, and then a stressed syllable. Pent means five, so a line of iambic pentameter is made up of five iambs. When spoken aloud, it sounds like duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH. It can also mean an iamb consists of a weak syllable followed by a strong syllable. Every single line of a sonnet consists of 10 syllables, or five iambs — thus the term pentameter.

Iambs need not be tailored into two-syllable words. The unstressed, stressed pattern can stretch out among separate words or even be repeated within a single word, provided it will result to a 10-syllable line.

Organize Stanzas and Build-up Arguments

A stanza is a group of lines in a poem. In sonnets, four types of stanzas are found, namely: Quatrain (four-line stanza), Sestet (six-line stanza), Octave (eight-line stanza), and Rhyming Couplet (two consecutive rhyming lines). The terms quatrain, sestet, or octet stanzas are also used to refer to poems with these standalone stanzas.

As mentioned earlier, English sonnets are comprised of three quatrains and ends with a couplet. Italian sonnets, on the other hand, start with an octave and answered with a sestet.

One important thing to remember about sonnets or any poem with this point is that it needs to build up as an argument. The metaphors used to guide the build-up as it moves from one stanza to the next.

In a Shakespearean sonnet, the argument build looks like this:

•    First quatrain: An exposition of the main theme through the main metaphor.
•    Second quatrain: Extended theme and metaphor become complicated;
•    Third quatrain: Peripeteia (a twist or conflict), often starts with a “but”;
•    Couplet: A turn that summarizes and leaves the reader with a new, contrasting, or different concluding image.

The build-up shows that a sonnet is a dynamic presentation of one’s thoughts or feelings.

Be Playful Yet Stick to a Rhyme Scheme

A rhyme is the matching sounds at the end of lines. In poetry, letters identify rhyme schemes or patterns of rhyme within a poem — every letter represents different rhyme patterns.

Here’s a look at an Italian sonnet has a tight rhyme scheme:

ABBA ABBA CDCDCD
“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (A poem engraved on a plaque and placed on the lower level of Statue of Liberty.)
‘Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, (a)
With conquering limbs astride from land to land; (b)
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand (b)
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame (a)
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name (a)
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand (b)
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command (b)
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. (a)
‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she (c)
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, (d)
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, (c)
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. (d)
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, (c)
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’ (d)
Unlike the first type, the English or Shakespearean sonnet has the following, looser rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
“Sonnet 130” by William Shakespeare
My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;(a)
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;(b)
If snow is white, why then her breasts are dun;(a)
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.(b)

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,(c)
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;(d)
And in some perfumes is there more delight(c)
There in the breath that from my mistress reeks.(d)

I love to hear her speak; yet well I know(e)
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;(f)
I grant I never saw a goddess go;(e)
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground(f)

Any yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare(g)
As any she belied with false compare.(g)
Incorporate a Volta

A turn, or “volta” in Italian, represents a change in the sonnet: a change in theme, sound, emphasis, or image of the poem. The “Volta” is used to indicate a sonnet’s ending.
In the English sonnets, the “Volta” is found in the third quatrain (often introduced with a “but”) while Italian sonnets’ “Volta” is often found in the ninth line.

Use Literary Devices

Literary devices (i.e., imagery) add to the sonnet’s creativity and the establishment of vivid images to be conveyed. The choice of words is important as well as the figures of speech to be used — similes, metaphors, and so on.

Sound devices such as assonance and consonance will bring up the musicality of the poem. Symbolism will create a more profound meaning and leaving the audience to interpret.

Writing sonnets can be challenging at first try. However, as with every endeavor in life, passion, and discipline coupled with wit, creativity, and attitude, may surprise you with a beautiful woven piece of your thoughts and emotions.

What is a Haiku?

    Poetry is a wonderful form of expression. Although in poetry, the writer is not as free as when writing prose, the final output usually results in a beautiful rhyme. Poetry comes in different forms, and for different purposes – some to portray love, while others express deep sorrow and sentiment. In all these forms of poetry, the most common characteristic is that of rhyme.

    However, there is one which has a peculiar requirement. It neither has a requirement of rhyme, nor has to be lengthy to deeply express one’s emotions. This seemingly odd form of poetry is called a haiku.

    So, what is a haiku? A Haiku is a short form of poetry which originated in Japan. Unlike other poems, an entire haiku is only composed of 17 syllables. These 17 syllables are divided into syllables of 5, 7, and 5 which are positioned in three lines. Haikus do not have titles, unlike the traditional forms of poetry. As much as possible, the use of punctuation marks is often limited, if not completely avoided. This is so because the line break is often used as a pause – in place of a comma – to add a more dramatic effect

    The Japanese are known to be protectors and lovers of nature. Hence, traditional Japanese haikus were originally written as a form of offering to nature. Its topics are usually about the beauty of their surroundings and how useful the environment is for the people.

    The popularity of these haikus has spread to the west, and is now being recognized as a form of poetry. Modern haikus in English no longer follow the rule having nature as a subject, nor does it strictly follow the 17-syllable rule.

    In fact, the English form of haiku seems to have developed several variants. Among them, the most popular is the monoku. The monoku originated in the 1970s, and is a one-line haiku which often contains less than 17 syllables.

    Another form of haiku contains four lines, but instead of limiting the syllables, it has a limit of two words per line. This is called the haiqua. The haiqua was written in such a way because of its intention to imitate the vertical print of the traditional Japanese haiku.

    A more creative form is the cirku. A cirku is a haiku which is written in a circular form which has no fixed start or end point. This form of haiku leaves it to the reader to imagine as they may see fit.

    Lesser known is the one-word haiku. However, these one-work haikus are often very tricky, as it would only be understood depending on its placement on the paper, and along with other forms of poetry.

    So what is a haiku? Although it has evolved into different forms, the most widely used is still that of three lines composed of 17 syllables. It is no longer limited to mere encounters with nature. In fact, it is being taught in schools to teach children how to write simple poetry, allowing them to appreciate art at such a young age.

How to Write a Business Letter Effectively

A Business letter is a type of correspondence letter from one company to another, or between companies to other individuals like customers, contractors and so on. It can contain various types of contents depending on the things that needed to be addressed. It has a maintained level of formality, and it is commonly used for writing sales efforts, considerations, and resolving issues, etc. to the clients, customers, managers and business partners and some other important matters. Writing a business letter is the form of communication that people takes seriously the most.

A carefully written business letter can be a powerful communication tool. Here are the basic parts of writing business letters and tips to make it effective.

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Format- there are three types of format for making business letters, the Full-block style, the Modified block style, and the Indented style. In Full-block style, all the elements are aligned to the left margin and no indented lines are used. The modified block style starts the return address, date, closing and signature at the right of the center of the page and all the body paragraphs starts at the left margin. The indented or Semi-block style is just similar to the Modified block style except that the first line of the paragraph is always indented. The full-block style is the standard and most used format for business writing so you should also use it.

Heading- choosing a professional looking heading for your business letter is important. Make a distinct and high-quality letter heading and put it in a modern looking letter template to make it look professional, simple and clean.

Date- Indicates the day the letter was written, the month should be spelled completely and the year should be four digits. Use the month, day, year format for this.
Sender’s Address- include senders’ address whenever possible this will allow clients to find you easily. Don’t include this section if the sender’s address is already written at the letterhead design.

Inside Address- this is the recipients address. Include a personal title such as Ms., Mrs., Mr., Dr. Etc. Inside address should be written one inch below the date or begins one line below the sender’s address.

Salutation- use the personal title and the family or last name followed by a colon, not a comma and leave one line blank after this.

Body- this is the main part of a business letter. Consider writing a good opening then explain the reason you are writing.

Complimentary close- this begins at the same vertical point as the date, state what you expect the reader to do and what you’ll do to follow up. Make a short and polite closing message that ends with a comma.

Signature block- use black or blue ink for signing.

Enclosures- if you have one, write this one line below the closing.

Typist initials- used to indicate the person who ‘typed’ the letter.

Remember to write clearly in a formal manner, use fonts that are accepted to make it easy to understand and don’t forget to proofread.

Writing your picture book: Love it, and it will fly high!

Writing is never an easy task. Becoming a great writer means being able to bring words into life, and evoking imagery that will leave an imprint on the mind of the reader. When it comes to writing stories for children, creating images is important, with their strong need to immerse themselves in colors and pictures in everything that they encounter. If a writer wishes to become successful in writing a good children’s book, there are some things that he has to keep in mind. Some useful tips when writing a children’s book can come in handy especially for beginners.

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The first thing that you have to know is that as a writer, you must find inspiration or a story that excites you. Prepare yourself for the writing journey ahead of you. It will not be easy on most occasions, but when you manage to achieve your aims, all the hardships will be worth it. Make sure that you equip yourself with patience and imagination, as well as strength in handling all sorts of bad news.

Writing a children’s book can be a different experience for a person who writes for his or her children and for someone who writes to get published. Writing a story for your kids can be fun and will earn you the praise of your children immediately. However, writing to get published may lead you to situations when the publishing company may not completely agree with your opinion on how well-received your book is going to be. Some publishing companies may even think that your book might not be the one that they are looking for. Being turned down can be difficult, so before you decide to write and get yourself published, ask yourself first how stubborn you are. Writing will require all of your energy and willingness to make consistently revisions to your work.

One of the most important and useful tips when writing a children’s book is to return to a child-like state. Think of what interested you when you were a child, what stories made you smile, what made you feel inspired, or just basically what made the universe of your imagination expand. Try to remember how you felt when you were young, probably when you were three to ten years old.
Also, when you get ideas, make sure that you always welcome them. Entertain them, and use them in your work. It will also help if you look at existing picture books, both old and new. Draw inspiration from these materials for your work. To get more acquainted with these existing picture books, go to your local library, or visit nearby bookstores in your area.
Another one of the useful tips when writing a children’s book is to make revising a habit. There might be some things you might like to change, or you may have unknowingly made grammar mistakes you might want to correct as you go.

Finally, love your work. Enjoy every minute of the writing process, from the beginning to the end. Writing is an art, and it is a form of expression. It would be of great help to you if you would see to it that you enjoy what you do.

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